Friday, February 29, 2008

A Night Out!

I had the most amazing evening yesterday. Three days ago my father-in-law calls and tells us he has two tickets to my brother-in-law's play for Thursday night. I thought, "Great, but will we be able to get a babysitter?" And my dear husband called his mom and voila, we were going out to see a play on Thursday night!

We went to the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oakbrook for "Jeeves Intervenes," a Jeff recommended comedy. The theater is an intimate affair, seating only 52 audience members. The show itself had only six characters, and that was all it needed. As I sat watching the show, I realized how much good quality theater is out there for the taking, if only one wants to find it. The small venue was inviting and allowed for a truly up close and personal look at the actors as they played their parts.

At intermission we were discussing how it felt as though the audience was in the room with all the actors (the entire play takes place in one sitting room), like we were on a couch on the other side of the room. It's not something you can experience at the big productions. I have enjoyed many high quality large productions of plays, but this was really enjoyable in a different way. There weren't any amazing set changes, the costumes were simple and suited the story, and the story is fast paced, perfect for a smaller audience. The dialogue was witty, funny and sharp.

When it has been a long time since I've seen a show I forget how much I love live theater. I grew up going to shows like "Annie", "Fiddler on the Roof", "Oklahoma", and "Starlight Express", to name a few that my parents took my brothers and sister and I to as kids. Since being married, my husband and I have continued to go to shows when the budget permits, but it's been awhile. Last night reminded me again how important and fun it is that we keep going to live theater. It's something I want my kids to experience, too.

All in all, a wonderful night out, even if we did have to eat McDonald's in the car on the way.

By the way, my brother-in-law is the one on the left in the picture.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wisdom From My Three Year Old

While watching a Superfriends episode from the 80's, my daughter noticed Firestorm's anger and sadness over Superman's apparent death. She said to me, "Mommy, he's always mad. That's why his smile is upside down."

Different Languages

I don't think I speak five year old girl very well.

For example: This morning I said, "Time to put shoes on." Meaning, put your shoes on it's time to go to school.

My five year old daughter must have heard something like, "Go ahead. Go get your doll, put a new outfit on her, then bug your little sister for two minutes. After you do all that, then it would be a good time to put your shoes on so we can get to school on time."

I was a five year old girl once, so I'm not sure how I lost the ability to speak her language clearly, but I obviously have.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fun Monday

Mariposa is hosting this week.

Our task is as follows:
(1) Please share to us how the NAME of your BLOG was made? I can't wait to hear interesting funny stories!

(2) Please share to us (in words or photo, though a combination of both will be a bonus!) your favorite/ most common dish!

1. I named my blog Heather's Recipes for very boring reasons. My husband had been blogging for several years, and I decided I wanted to give it a try. I thought that I'd post a recipe weekly, and other musings as I saw them. I figured the recipe would help me post regularly. It did at first, but then I just posted recipes very sporadically. ANYWAYS, I picked The title for my blog because Heather is my first name and I like to share recipes!

2. I do not have a picture of my best dish, but will share the recipe with you. I had a hard time picking, so I asked my husband, and he mentioned my Golden Delicious Apple Tart, my Sweet Potato Casserole, and my Country Chicken Kiev. I was thinking about my Baked Ziti, but in the end I realized that the Country Chicken Kiev is probably one of my best dishes, one I'm proud to serve to company and make for special occasions.

So, here's my recipe:

Country Chicken Kiev

2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. salt
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup cooking wine
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley (or 2 tsp. dried parsley)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Melt butter. Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, garlic salt and salt. Dip chicken in butter, then roll in crumb mixture to coat. Place in ungreased 13 in. x 9 in. pan. Add wine, green onions and parsley to remaining butter. Pour over chicken. Bake 25 - 30 minutes or until chicken juices run clear.

Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Difference Between Men And Women

I was watching the Oscars tonight with my husband and Cameron Diaz came on to present some award. As I watched her talk I couldn't help but noticed how pronounced her cheeks were. I just kept seeing cheeks the entire time she talked. So I said to Brendan, "Her cheeks are SO defined."

And he says, "I was just thinking that her arms are so defined."

So, I rip my eyes away from Cameron's cheeks long enough to realize that to see her defined arms involves moving my head down to her chest area, away from her head area. Of course he denies any inference that the reason he was looking at her arms was because he was looking at her breasts.

I'm not sure I believe him.

Friday, February 22, 2008

How Many Socks Can One Man Have?

This is a question that must be asked! How did my husband acquire 19 pairs of navy blue or black socks? How long has it been since I've done laundry that all 19 pairs are folded and sitting on my bed waiting to be put away? And for goodness sake, does my husband even have socks on his feet today? (And if so, what color are they?)

Thank you. I just needed to get that off my chest.

Zoe Cooks Again

Yesterday Zoe pulled out her Strawberry Shortcake Cookbook again and pored over the pages of all the recipes she might be able to make. After looking through it on her own, she brought it over to me and we talked about some of the recipes. She really wanted to bake again, so we decided on a Blueberry Pound Cake recipe. While she went to speech yesterday, I picked up some fresh blueberries and flour and when she came home we set to work on her recipe.

She measured, mixed, and poured ingredients until the batter was ready to pour into the pan. Together we brought the pan to the oven and I popped it inside. After cleaning up a little and some Dragon Tales for Zoe, the cake was still not ready. The little chef needed a nap, and I kept my eye on the cake. It came out beautifully and tonight we will be enjoying this cake for dessert with a little vanilla ice cream.

Watch the video to hear Zoe say the name of her creation.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We Are Officially A "Webkinz" Family

The Webkinz craze has been going strong for over a year now, from what I understand. I have neighbors and friends and brothers and sisters whose kids all have Webkinz. They told me all about them and how the kids could go on the computer and take care of their Webkinz. I even had a friend log onto her computer while I was visiting and show me how her kids played on Webkinz. It looked cute, but upon hearing how the membership is good only for one year, whereupon the end of that one year you must either pay to continue using the website or buy another Webkinz, I decided I wasn't that interested. I figured my kids could jump onto the next fad.

Yeah, I know, it was (and is) the hot toy right now, but my kids weren't asking about it, at all. I figured if they weren't asking about it, I certainly didn't need to start it with them.

At Christmastime, when some of my kids' aunts and uncles called for suggestions and asked about Webkinz, I explained that my kids didn't have any yet and weren't asking for any. I said they would probably enjoy it, but it wasn't something they had requested. My one sister-in-law even said to me, "Well, if they aren't asking, I'm not going to be the one to start it!"

I thought we'd made it through the holidys safely (no Webkinz) when on December 29 my brother, Emma's godfather, presented her with a pink poodle Webkinz. Emma was excited because she had heard of them, but I don't think she knew what she could do with them. So when we came home from Ohio we logged her onto Webkinz and she was hooked. Before Webkinz, she played the computer very sporadically. Since Webkinz, she and her brother compete for time on the computer after school.

Then Ian wached Emma play with her pink poodle at Webkinz, and decided he might enjoy having one of his own. So after adding up the dollars and coins in his bank, he declared he wanted to buy himself a Webkinz. So on Superbowl Sunday (I think) he went and picked out a tree frog. He payed for it and brought it home. He couldn't log on that day due to a computer restriction, but on Monday after school he wasted no time getting online to register his tree frog. He played quite regularly initially, but eventually missed his regular websites and now plays at Webkinz a few times a week. Emma still plays almost everyday.

And soon, Zoe will be getting one for her birthday from her Aunt in Ohio. I guess Webkinz is here to stay for awhile.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Old Times

I was inspired by Heather over at Dooce to look through some old videos of the kids. Unfortunately, our camera was small and couldn't handle much video and we didn't really know what we'd ever do with the digital video, so there is not a lot. (Pictures - millions, videos - almost zilch) (Something I'm sure they'll take us to task over as they get older.)

But here are two blasts from the past. The first one is Emma apparently helping with the laundry. This is from May of 2003, so Emma is not quite 9 months old.

The next one is Ian doing what he does best, jumping around, acting silly and kicking invisible bad guys. This one's from November of 2003, making Ian a little over 4 years old. If you look carefully in the mirror you can see Brendan taking the video and Emma watching him.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine Dessert Preview

Here's a little sneak peak at the dessert I made for my family for Valentine's Day. It's called Heart Brownie Cupcakes. They were very easy to make and came out so cute. You can find the recipe here.

Cover Songs

9 FM (92.5, 92.7, and 99.9 in the Chicago area) is playing all cover songs today, for an "Under the Covers with 9FM" for Valentine's Day. I've listened for about 40 minutes and I'm absolutely loving it. Some of the songs I've heard this morning are "Venus" by Bananarama (c'mon, you know you like it!), "Mama Told Me (Not To Come)" by Three Dog Night, "American Woman" by Lenny Kravitz, "Lean on Me" by Club Nouveau (I LOOOOOVE THIS SONG!), "I'm a Believer" by Smash Mouth, and "Kiss" by Tom Jones (an amazing version of this song!). It's a lot of fun, so if you get a chance take a listen today.

On a side note, my kids seemed to be embellishing on a cover song of their own and have been singing it nonstop lately, especially my three year old. It is from the popular "Jingle Bells Batman Smells" song, however they have their own spin on the lyrics.

Their version goes something like this:
Jingle Bells. Batman Smells.
Robin laid a gun.
He shot his butt in a Pizza Hut in 1941.

Somehow I like the original a lot better.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Snow Ice Cream

I have had a request to post my Snow Ice Cream recipe by one of my readers. And since I have so few readers, I wouldn't want to do anything to disappoint them. So, here is my snow ice cream recipe.

Well, actually it is going to be a description because I don't really follow a recipe when I make this.

Snow Ice Cream

Fill a big bowl with snow. (Clean snow, please!)
Add half and half or whipping cream and stir until the texture of melted mushy ice cream. (I add a little at a time, it's always easy to add more, but not easy to remove it if you add too much.)
Add sugar to taste, probably between 1/2 cup and 1 cup.
Add about a capful of vanilla extract.
Mix, taste, and add more half and half or sugar as needed.
Top with chocolate chips or sprinkles if desired.

The original recipe I used was here. This just uses milk, and if you don't have whole milk it won't taste very good, in my opinion. It also uses a bit too much vanilla. I love the taste with half and half, very creamy. I tried making it with evaporated milk but did not like it at all. Someone suggested using sweetened condensed milk, which I've never tried, but sounds promising. You probably wouldn't need to use very much sugar if making it with the condensed milk.

Anyways, give it a try on your next snowy day. Your kids will love it.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Zoe Says Her Z's

Zoe started speech this school year. She goes twice a week for an hour at a time with four other kids. She loves her teacher completely, and therefore loves going to speech every week. They focus on a letter sound each week, and we practice words at home every day. She has improved tremendously and our ability to understand her is so much better than when she started.

This weeks sound was Z. A special one for a girl whose name starts with Z. Her teacher made a big point out of letting Zoe and all the kids know that this sound was a special one because of Zoe's name starting with it.

Up until this point, Zoe has never said a Z sound. I prompted, modelled, and repeated it over and over for her to no avail. I decided not to worry about it assuming the sound would come when she was ready. That time was this week, Tuesday.

Zoe came home from speech able to say her name beautifully. Up to this point she has always said her name as "O E" Saying the sounds of the O and E but omitting the Z sound. I have always thought it was endearing and embraced it knowing someday it would end. In fact just this past spring my sister riled Zoe up by pronouncing her name wrong. Leanne would ask Zoe, "What's your name?" And Zoe would reply, "OE" To which my sister would say, "OE. Your name's OE?" Zoe would then place her hands on her hip and indignantly say, "No, it's not OE, it's OE!" It was just about the cutest thing I've ever witnessed.

So this week, Zoe has said her name starting with a Z sound. I am really proud of her. She doesn't always do it, but that will come. Just as Emma no longer calls her brother Ina and Zoe doesn't call him Eeee Eeee anymore, Zoe will probably stop calling herself OE within the span of this year. I am happy to see it, but I know I will miss my little OE, too.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

This One's For My Husband

Stumbled across this blog of a man named Johnny Castuciano. His illustrations blew me away. I came across this particular one and knew I had to post it for my Batman loving husband to see. So, this one's for you, Brendan!

Super Bowl Wings

On Sunday we prepared for the upcoming Super Bowl viewing by preparing lots of good food to munch on during the game. The kids look forward to the Super Bowl because we essentially eat junk food for dinner and get to sit in front of the TV while eating, a true rarity in our home. Brendan and I look forward to the Super Bowl because we get to eat all manner of yummy foods that we normally don't indulge in. Oh, and of course, we like watching the game.

This year's game was excellent. Exciting all the way through and the team I was pulling for won. I didn't get to see a lot of the first half because I was busy putting together our culinary delicacies, but what I watched was fun and I knew I'd get to watch more of the second half.

The most exciting part of the game for me was my hot wings that I made for the very first time. I followed Pioneer Woman's recipe for wings and was thrilled and amazed with the results. The wings looked and tasted just like you get at a restaurant. And since Brendan and I rarely eat out anymore, especially at a wing joint, this was a great discovery. Right here at home, I could make our very own wings - and they're awesome. My only regret is that I got rid of that Fry Daddy I received as a shower gift 12 1/2 years ago. It would be so handy now that I can make good fried food.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Sledding Saturday

Saturday was a busy one for us. Okay, it was moderately busy for me, but my husband did a lot of work and was very productive. I went to the grocery store (by myself!, it's Saturday remember) while Brendan stayed home and began the monumental task of helping Ian clean out his room. They went through almost all of his toys and books and got rid of some stuff and agreed on which items should go downstairs to the basement. Then Brendan moved Ian's train table down to the basement which immediately made my eight year old son's room look like a big boy's room. Brendan put together a desk and a new bookshelf and Ian's room was officially transformed from little boy's room to big kid's room. It looks great though I have to admit there were (and are) a few wistful pangs in my heart as I looked around at his new room.

After all this is where the sledding comes in. The whole family suited up to go out to the sledding hill by our old house. The girls have never been sledding, so there was a lot of giddy excitement as well as nervous curiosity. I filled a thermos with hot chocolate, grabbed some chocolate chip cookies and pretzel rods, and added an extra pair of gloves for each kid to a canvas bag while Brendan loaded the van with the only two sleds we own, a pink one I bought for a dollar at a garage sale and a Little Tikes orange kiddie sled designed mainly to pull toddlers around in the snow.

We took a quick drive out to the sledding hill, parked, and unloaded all three kids and both sleds from the van. The kids watched all the other families flying down the hill and marched a little quicker over the snow to get to the hill. We trudged up and Ian immediately took the first ride down. I suggested that Zoe try riding down in the little sled and she happily agreed. I ran down the hill in case she wiped out or otherwise needed me, but she did amazing! It was a thrill to watch her giggle with glee as she raced down the hill. As soon as she stopped at the bottom it was, "Again! Again!" So I pulled the sled up for her and she flew down the hill over and over again until it was time to go home. She only stopped for some hot chocolate and a pretzel rod. Ian and Emma enjoyed the sledding as well, but clearly didn't want to have to take turns. I made it worse when I insisted on going down the hill once by myself. After all, it's been many years since I went sledding and wanted to get in at least one run by myself. Brendan and I each got in a few runs with the kids before it was time to go.

It was definitely a lot of fun. I think Emma summed it up best. "Can we do this again next winter?"

Monday, February 04, 2008

Psssssst. I've Got A Secret

Hi. I've got a secret. I went to the library today and picked up a book I put on reserve last week. I've started reading it already. I'm enjoying it, even though it is not the best written book I've ever read. I've been wanting to read this book for a while, since I saw it advertised several months ago. But, I didn't want to buy it, and I didn't really want anyone to know I wanted to read it. Then it hit me. The library. I can get it for free and read it and enjoy it. So I did get it, today.

The book? It's called "Jonathan's Story" and its about some characters from a soap opera I've watched on and off since 7th grade. I starting watching Guiding Light back in 1985, and have followed it loosely ever since. I don't watch it in it's entirety ever, because it just doesn't fit into my shcedule. But, I watch enough bits and pieces to know whats happening, and I watched enough to see this book advertised at the end of the episodes.

At first I thought, "Who would want that?" And, "Who would spend money on that?" But then it started to grow on me. I wanted it. Me.

But here's my problem. My husband. He reads voraciously. He reads authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Michael Chabon. I once bought him a Norman Mailer book for a present. I think if he sees me reading this book I am going to get a look of incredulity from him. I think he will shake his head and smirk. I don't know if I can take that, but I want to read my book.

I've got it!! If I read it instead of watching one of my reality shows I might be able to redeem myself. Now, which one to get rid of? That's a tough one.

What To Do On A Snow Day

My kids had a snow day off from school on Friday and we took full advantage of it. After everyone was informed of the no school knowledge (my husband went out to shovel the driveway without informing my son, so as soon as I got downstairs I was met with begging to turn the TV on to check the school closings), we settled down into relaxing and not changing out of our pajamas for a few hours. By mid-morning, the girls and I were looking for something fun to do, so we made chocolate chip cookies. I used to use the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag until I found this recipe, and now this is the only way I make cookies. The cookies turn out thick and delicious and full of chocolate chips. Anyways, if you are looking for a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, look no further.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 box (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cream butter and sugars. Add pudding mix, eggs, and vanilla. Mix. Add flour, oatmeal and baking soda to creamed mixture. Mix well. Fold in chocolate chips.
3. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Yield:4-5 dozen

As the girls and I were making cookies, Ian went outside to play with two of the neighbor boys in the snow. They stayed out until their socks were wet and then asked to come inside to our house. After removing all their snow gear, they ran upstairs to Ian's room to play. After about ten minutes the girls just could not resist checking on the boys. I learned that Emma already has a great grasp on what 7 and 8 year old boys like. She knew she couldn't go up empty handed to see the boys, or she would probably be met with a loud "Get out" from her brother. So she stood outside Ian's door with her little sister for support. Then she knocked loudly and asked, "Who wants to see a dog poop?" Sure enough, the door opened and the neighbor boys looked out long enough to see Emma demonstrate how Tanner the Barbie dog poops when you lift up it's tail.

Finally, after the neighbors went home I whipped up a batch of snow ice cream. This has fast become a winter tradition when I discovered a recipe for it about three years ago. Now as soon as snowflakes start falling each winter I am met with the question, "When can we make snow ice cream?"

It was definitely a memorable snow day, the kind I like best.

P.S. I apologize for including a picture of a pooping toy dog with my recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Snow Days

If you live in the Chicago area, you are probably at home with your kids for the first snow day of the school year. If you don't know about this website, you should. It is the WGN Radio site that lists all closings and delays. It's where I went first thing this morning (at 5:30 AM) to check and see if my kids' school was closed. With more than 1000 closings today, it's much faster than waiting for the crawl across the bottom of the TV screen.